Over the Easter weekend I went for lunch at my parent’s place. By the end of dessert we had gotten to the topic of AI. While myself and my mum seemed excited about its ability to assist artists, my dad seemed more sceptical. His worry is that the advancements of AI are moving faster than any technological evolution he has seen in his lifetime – he is in his mid 50s for context.
He is not alone in his views. In fact, only last week, tech experts and regulators alike took public aim at the burgeoning AI industry. European Union officials introduced new legislation to regulate AI, the British government rolled out a white paper laying out a “pro-innovation approach” to AI and Italy became the first government to ban OpenAI’s ChatGPT due to data privacy concerns.
A public letter signed by more than 1,000 tech leaders — including Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak, Pinterest Co-Founder Evan Sharp and numerous AI experts — was published last week also. It urged companies themselves to “pause” further development of AI models for at least six months before training an AI system more powerful than OpenAI’s recently released GPT-4.
Cries for slowing down, however, don’t seem to be stopping the advancement of either AI or brand engagement with it. During last week alone, Microsoft teased out new ads for its ChatGPT-powered Bing, Adobe touted a new partnership with Prudential Insurance to use AI for “personalised financial experiences,” and Google revealed a new deal with the coding platform Replit to further scale AI software.
The ability for companies to do so comes from lack of regulatory clarity around various concerns — such as data ownership and intellectual property rights. Senior analysts like Nicole Greene feel that governments and businesses need to collaborate to “help society shape expectations,” but also warn that preemptively regulating the sector might also end up hindering research and advancements. Greene has a point seeing that incidents of misuse of AI have increased 26x in the past decade according to the 2023 edition of Stanford University’s “AI Index Report”.
Despite all this, I remain optimistic. Hikari Senju, CEO and founder of Omneky puts my thoughts into words perfectly, he thinks it is so unlikely that a “singular platform will outsmart the collective wisdom of humanity.”
“The question really is, how can AI further empower humanity to better communicate with each other and actually make the hundred billion trillion neurons of the human collective brain level up in terms of its bandwidth and its communication?” Senju asked. “That’s really where the potential is in terms of this technology.”
Rather than a total pause, others emphasise the need for more education to train more people around the world how to responsibly develop AI, as well as to teach government officials tasked with regulating them. Bharat Krish, the former chief technology officer of Time, said there’s always “going to be good and bad, and hopefully the good wins out over the bad.”